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University of Pacific begins academic year strong in budget & enrollment

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POSTED August 29, 2009 2:14 a.m.
STOCKTON – University of the Pacific is off to a strong start for the 2009-2010 academic year.

Pacific received a record number of applications this year, welcomed freshmen with the highest  incoming grade point averages and SAT scores in Pacific’s history, has imposed no layoffs or budget cuts, recently had its bond rating reaffirmed with no decline, just started another major construction project  and established a major new masters program.

The University also has significantly increased the number of traditionally underrepresented students on campus and was recently named on three national school ranking lists as a top university.

“Pacific has earned this position of strength through years of solid planning, emphasis on quality teaching and attractive academic programs and a strong commitment of faculty and staff to ensure this university is accessible to students from all backgrounds,” said new President Pamela A. Eibeck, who assumed her role July 1. “I have heard colleagues at other universities talk about staff cut backs, construction projects being delayed or canceled and reductions in their enrollments due to budget restrictions. While we need to remain cautious and diligent in this recession, I can say that Pacific is starting the year on extremely solid footing.”

Incoming Class
The incoming freshmen class is the strongest and largest in Pacific’s history. Class registrations for new freshmen are up from last year, according to Associate Provost for Enrollment Robert Alexander, and, when the University takes its official “headcount” in early October, the final number of freshmen is expected to be nearly 900.

The incoming freshman class was selected from nearly 15,000 applicants, almost triple the number of applications from the previous year. That improved Pacific’s selectivity rate from 69 percent to 41.5 percent. At the same time, the average high school GPA of the admitted freshmen rose from 3.45 to 3.55 and the average SAT score rose from 1182 to 1200. The number of transfer student applications also increased dramatically over last year. Combined with the incoming freshmen, the enrolling transfer students make this the largest incoming class in Pacific’s history.

The incoming class also has the highest percentage of Latino students in Pacific’s history. Nearly 15 percent of the students claim a Latino heritage, an increase of nearly 50 percent from three years ago. About one-third of the freshmen are Cal Grant and Pell Grant recipients, which means that those students come from low-income families and are more likely to be the first person in their immediate family to go to college.

“Those statistics demonstrate Pacific’s commitment to serving students from a variety of socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds,” said Alexander. “We believe that the best educational outcomes result from a well-rounded student body that can contribute diverse perspectives to the learning process.”

Pacific continues to be economically sound. There have been no hiring freezes or wage reductions and no classes have been canceled due to budget constraints. Recently, Moody’s reaffirmed Pacific’s A2 bond rating. As a result, construction on the John T. Chambers Technology Center has started on time and construction of the Janssen-Lagorio Multipurpose Gymnasium is expected to be completed by mid October.

Pacific’s School of Engineering and Computer Science now offers Masters degrees in engineering. While most new masters programs only start with five or six students, this program has a strong start with about 20 students expected to begin the program this semester.

Rankings
In the past three months, Pacific’s strengths have been recognized by three different college ranking publications. The Fiske College Guide, Princeton Review and U.S News & World Report all listed Pacific among the top national universities. The Fiske Guide and U.S. News rankings also listed Pacific as a “best buy” or “best value” college where students can get the most for their dollar.

The Princeton Review listed Pacific as a University with more to do on campus, while U.S. News listed Pacific on the following lists:

• Highest  proportion of classes under 20 students

• Average amount of need-based aid awarded

• Best undergraduate engineering programs

• Highest economic diversity

• Campus ethnic diversity

“We are always looking for ways to improve ourselves academically, fiscally and socially and we know there’s always room for improvement,” said Phil Gilbertson, provost at Pacific. “But optimism is high at Pacific right now and we are pleased to see our careful planning and hard work get great results.”
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